Writing Off Obama Prematurely

Finally a moment of reason from the media. After the last CNN poll showed a drop in Obama’s approval to 45 percent, the media went nuts. There were articles everywhere about how Obama’s drop in approval would impact the chances of Democrats winning elections in both 2014 and 2016 as if the bottom had fallen out on his support. I don’t mean to ignore bad poll results as Republicans did throughout the 2012 campaign, but one poll does not mean very much. It could be an outlier. Even if real, a drop in approval could change. First Read got it right today:

Why basing broad conclusions from just one poll is like eating a box of donuts: Every political journalist and observer, including us, is guilty of drawing conclusions from just one poll. And yesterday, we received another reminder of the pitfalls of that practice. After a CNN survey (conducted June 11-13) found that President Obama’s approval rating had dropped to 45%, a Pew poll (conducted June 12-16) found it steady at 49% approve/43% disapprove. And for the record, our NBC/WSJ poll from last week showed Obama’s approval rating at 48%, though it also noted an erosion in some of his key traits. Folks, drawing conclusions from just one poll is like eating a box of donuts for breakfast — it tastes great and it’s different than your usual breakfast meal. But you usually regret it later.

It is still possible that Obama’s approval will drop. He remains the target of a never-ending smear campaign, with the right wing noise machine inventing a number phoney scandals to attack him on. There are also real issues for which Obama deserves some criticism, such as civil liberties concerns coming out recently. While it does not excuse any problems, from the perspective of partisan politics criticism of Obama here hardly provides a reason to vote for the Republicans, who have been worse on this issue.

If Obama’s popularity really does drop to 45 percent, this hardly means certain doom for the Democrats. The Republicans are perfectly capable of falling even lower when they push their “limited government” into the private lives of individuals, or show a total unwillingness to govern responsibly. Republicans just can’t help making inane and offensive remarks, such an Illinois Republican Party official calling a biracial congressional candidate a “street walker” recently. Besides, Obama’s approval ratings in the last two polls of 45 percent and 49 percent sure look a lot better than the 10 percent approval rating of Congress.